Tag Archives: thursdaytuneup

Yoga Retreat

Quick Yoga Sequences: Front Body Opening

This #ThursdayTuneUp, we are using a yoga block to open up and find more space in the psoas, hips, belly, chest and shoulders. Beginner version is gentle enough for a morning practice!!

We particularly LOVE it when we start sweeping the right arm over head and then begin to draw the fingers and the right heel gently away from each other. You’d DEFINITELY feel the length and opening to that entire side of the front body. Practise both sides! (the video only shows the right side)

Tips:

  1. Start from the absolutely lowest block height (not shown in video demo) especially if you’ve tight psoas/ hips and limited hip extension. Note: your shoulders and heels should comfortably ground you down. Come off the block if you feel crunching or a sharp pain in the lower back.
  2. You may feel a rush when you first enter the pose, as is the case in any chest opening shapes. Allow your breath to deepen and lengthen, and your body and mind to settle into the shape. If something in your body is still in chaos even after a minute in the pose, it’s a good idea to exit the pose and take the resting position.
  3. The resting position for this sequence is to stay on your back, bend at the knees, take the feet mat-width apart, and then let your knees fall back towards each other. You should feel more length returning to the lower back and a nice support from the ground. Take this wonderful counter-pose to the sequence at any point you feel that you need one. And then return to the practice only if you feel alright.
  4. Intermediate option: experiment with this only if the basic version can be practised with ease.
  5. Yoga wheel option: nice to have if you have a yoga wheel. The wheel comfortably holds up your back contours. Let your sacrum and lower back be draped over the wheel. Courtesy: @DharmaYogaWheel
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Reverse Boat Crunch – Get Stronger in Your Headstand!

The headstand is notoriously challenging, and a lot of the times, the challenge for students lies in not having a strong, stable foundation. The opportunities to work the right muscles are missed when often in class we are asked to “kick up”. When you use momentum to fling yourself into a headstand, you don’t learn the principles, and your muscles don’t benefit from the work needed to get into the headstand properly.

CAUTION: do not attempt this without first having attempted the headstand and learned the technique with a teacher.

Here’s an excellent prop to play with to help lift the hips higher so that you can practise getting into the hips-over-shoulders alignment and work the core to maintain it.¬† There’s no need to kick up. You simply walk – and roll – the yoga wheel closer towards you and keep lifting the hips high. Keep the navel pulled in so that your abs are firm to maintain balance and steadiness through the torso, and keep grounding towards your forearm tripod position.

Check out this video on how to do what I’d like to call the “Reverse Boat Crunch” to strengthen the hip flexors and overall core. Remember to keep your foundation steady with minimal movement. There is also a fun intermediate option to challenge yourself with!

Strong abs, shoulders and psoas guaranteed!

Prop courtesy of @DharmaYogaWheel

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A Daily Dose of Backbends

Here’s an easy-to-follow yoga backbend sequence that will help you build strength in your spinal extensors without crunching your spine!

Do this daily and notice how it can help you to sit and walk taller and with more open shoulders and lungs.

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How to Sit Tall

Don’t compromise your spinal elongation in your yoga asana practice.

Tight hip flexors and weak back muscles can cause us to constantly hunch over while we are practising many yoga seated poses, continuing a vicious cycle of poor posture created from sitting at the desk all day (the more you sit, the tighter your hip flexors, the tighter the hip flexors, the less easy it is to sit upright).

Here’s how to bring awareness to centering the pelvis and strengthening the core (front and back) muscles, in order to find a long spine, working with tight hips (which most of us live with!) Explore props and variations for four yoga asanas. ENJOY!

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Caturanga with Stable Shoulders

Use 2 yoga blocks – or stacks of books of the same thickness and firmness – to train strength, alignment and stability in the upper body in caturanga.

  1. Train flexing elbows to 90 degrees carrying own upper body weight (place yoga blocks to touch the shoulders at this height)
  2. Bring awareness to what needs to be turned on to maintain stable shoulder girdle (active palms, arms, hugging of shoulder blades towards ribcage).
  3. Work on concentric and eccentric muscle engagement by working in both directions slow – lowering down and pushing up.
  4. Work with knees down first to build upper body strength – chest, upper back, triceps – before layering in lower body work.

The detailed work needs a whole workshop to run through! These are some ideas to stimulate your awareness in your personal practice.

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Balancing Squat (Hips and Core!)

This is suitable for those of you who already have a comfortable malasana (squat pose) as part  of your physical practice. With a yoga wheel, you can add in stabilization work, firing up the whole core while maintaining hip opening, balanced weight distribution and mental focus.

See video on Spice Yoga’s Youtube Channel

Courtesy: @DharmaYogaWheel

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